Hari Prasad Poudel is the head of the Water User Committee (WUC) in the village of Khastar, where Raleigh Expedition volunteers have been been working with the community to facilitate improvements in the water system.
Over the last few weeks, work has included building tap stands for community members (therefore improving their access to water) and digging ditches ready for more pipelines to be installed. Volunteers in Khastar have also worked closely with the local school to raise awareness of the importance of hygiene practices.
We spoke to him about his experience.
“I used to work in India, in the government, and came back to Nepal in 1995 where I worked in politics, and I’m now retired. In 1997, I established a Water User Committee (WUC) along with some of the village. When not fulfilling these duties, I work as a farmer and looked after my family and my sons’ education.
Before the WUC, I was the ward officer for this area, and was in charge of the local school and hospital. When we created the WUC, there weren’t many people living in this village so it was small. I used to buy my own water to drink, so when I started the WUC, I focused on increasing the availability of water for the community. I currently work as a social worker for this community, and help when problems arise. This helps to ensure everyone knows and trusts me, and I’m aware of what’s going on in the village. I feel I am well respected in the community.”
What does the Water User Committee do?
“The WUC was established when the population of our village started to increase, as there was a need to manage our water supply, and ensure we could provide enough to everyone. At the start, we built a 10,000 litre water tank, and pipes for distribution. As the population increased, this was not enough to sustain the village, and so we started to charge community members 50 rupees per month for water. With this money, we built a second water tank, and we replace piping that can be washed away in monsoon season.
The main priority of the WUC is to ensure each member of the community has the same amount of water regardless of where their tap stand is relative to the source. We also make sure that people do not use water for irrigation, as this can use up a lot. I am working with Raleigh and Goreto Gorkha to ensure that the work they do benefits everyone equally.”
How volunteers are helping
Raleigh’s work in Gorkha will help ensure that community members have access to a tap stand, helping the community to repair the damage that has been done to their pipelines. When the 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Gorkha in April 2015, it not only destroyed houses, but also damaged innumerable latrines and water systems in remote mountainous areas. The lack of clean water supplies and appropriate sanitation facilities has not only made life for the affected people even more challenging, but also often compromised their health conditions. By working to provide clean water in the communities we work in alongside our partner NGOs and Water User Committees, Raleigh hopes to provide sustainable change and positively affect the lives of those who live there.